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Laundry list

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 21, 2006

In Reply to: Laundry list posted by R. Berg on October 20, 2006

: : What is the origin of laundry list and who first coined the phrase?

: Origin: a list of items to be washed. First user: impossible to determine. ~rb

Nowadays the main use of the phrase is figurative--that is, it has nothing to do with laundry, only to do with lists, especially long ones. I will quote only two of the citations in the OED under this rubric, both very typical. "1968 Time 10 May 22 The at-large ballot is a bewildering laundry list of 75 names. 1972 Fortune Jan. 3/1 As the archetype of U.S. corporations, General Motors is charged by its critics with primary responsibility for a laundry list of social ills, including air pollution, congestion in the cities, ugliness in the countryside, [etc.]."